No matter the occasion, heels offer a unique kind of courage and confidence. It’s an intoxicating cocktail of emotions that can easily prompt us to hunt for a modern, versatile, and comfortable new pair to add to our edit.
That said, high heels are taking many forms right now, with some offering simple yet strategic lines and others employing finer details. “We’re seeing everything from bright colors to flashy embellishments, like feathers and crystals—all reminiscent of the Y2K era,” Lauren Yerkes tells Byrdie.
Meet the Expert
Lauren Yerkes is the Chief Merchandising Officer at REVOLVE, a digital fashion retailer.
If you’re wondering where to start on your search for the best pair, you needn’t worry. For this piece, we rounded up the most exquisite pairs of high heels available now.
Sarah Flint Perfect Pump 85
In fashion, practicality refers to two things: The first is versatility, so you can match a pair of shoes with many outfit combinations; the second is comfort, as you want to feel good in them for an extended period of time. Shoe designer Sarah Flint understands that meeting both definitions makes a high-value pair of shoes; it is perhaps why she created her Perfect Pump.
Handmade in Italy, the widened toe box and V shape of this particular style work to prevent toe crowding without eliminating toe cleavage. It’s also made with arch support and extra padding in the footbed—must-haves by podiatrist standards—and rubber soles for better traction.
Price at time of publish: $550
Heel Height: Approximately 3 inches | Colors: Black calf, black suede, gunmetal lame fabric, chocolate leopard haircalf, +more | Size Range: 4-13
The Drop Avery Square Toe Two Strap Sandal
To ensure that you get the most out of your purchase, the best budget pick is always a bit basic. That said, something is thrilling about a pair of shoes that goes with so many things. These strappy high-heel mules by The Drop are that good; you can wear them with everything from denim pants to dresses through spring, summer, and early fall.
Price at time of publish: $46
Heel Height: Approximately 3½ inches | Colors: Black, clear, dusty blue, pastel yellow, +more | Size Range: 5-13
Best for Work
Sarah Flint Rosie
The Rosie is the perfect go-to pair of heels for work because it has a very low block heel, extra padding, and a roomy, almond-shaped toe box—features that are paramount to comfort in any pair of shoes, particularly those which you’ll need to sustain you throughout your workday.
Price at time of publish: $495
Heel Height: 1 inch | Colors: Black suede, taupe suede, chocolate leopard haircalf, navy suede | Size Range: 4-13
Brother Vellies Dusty Lavender Palms Pump
Clickbait accessories are attention grabbers and conversation starters, most recently inspired by the 1990s and the aforementioned Y2K era. Nothing seems to be as suitable for this category as Brother Vellies’ feathered Palms Pump in lavender, reminiscent of Alicia Silverstone’s style in Clueless. Wear it with a combination as simple as a dark pair of jeans and a T-shirt combination or as bold as a long, flowy frock.
Price at time of publish: $441
Heel Height: Not listed | Colors: Lavender | Size Range: 5-12
Dior J’Adior Slingback Pump
While they might be a bit of a splurge, the quality of these shoes speaks for itself. This pair of slingbacks is lined fully in Italian leather and has a cotton ribbon backing that won’t dig into the top of your heels (or, conversely, slip off incessantly). Plus, it’s made from the brand’s technical fabric, which has more give than patent leather to mitigate the breaking-in process.
Price at time of publish: $990
Heel Height: 2½ inches | Colors: Black technical, nude technical | Size Range: IT34-42
Best Kitten Heel
Larroudé The Valerie Mule
A former fashion director for Barneys New York, Marina Larroudé spent time working alongside some of the industry’s most talented creators. Now, she has come into a designer role within her eponymous shoe label and pays homage to her past by naming styles after fellow creatives. This one is named after La Ligne’s Valerie Macaulay and mirrors the knitwear brand’s understated, elegant appeal with clean lines and a wearable kitten heel.
Price at time of publish: $300
Heel Height: Approximately 2 inches | Colors: Gold, silver | Size Range: 5-11
Schutz Keefa Sandal
Take your love for heels to new heights with a pair of platforms like the Keefa sandal from Schutz. Set on a soaring four-inch heel and a one-and-a-half-inch platform, it has a strong but tasteful quality of disco-style glamor.
Price at time of publish: $138
Heel Height: 4 inches | Colors: Prata silver, honey beige, black, +more | Size Range: 5-11
Castañer Carina Wedge Espadrilles
Castañer has perfected the espadrille from every angle—quality, versatility, and comfort. At least, that’s what reviewers on several e-commerce sites wrote, along with their five-star ratings. The founders created the brand’s signature wedge in the early 1970s for a customer you might recognize named Yves Saint Laurent. The brand and its signature style have been mainstays in fashion ever since.
Price at time of publish: $135
Heel Height: 2.5 to 3.5 inches | Colors: Ivory, black, army green, +more | Size Range: IT35-41
Best Block Heel
Sarah Flint Perfect Emma
This style has been favored by A-listers like Alexa Chung and Amal Clooney for its low block heel—in addition to several other features for which Sarah Flint is known, like a wide toe box, arch support, and additional padding. Reviewers on Sarah Flint said this style is “unbelievably comfortable” and trumps even the crème-de-la-crème of luxury footwear, like Jimmy Choo.
Price at time of publish: $495
Heel Height: 2 inches | Colors: Black suede, taupe suede, navy suede, chocolate leopard haircalf, +more | Size Range: 4-13
Best for Weddings
Marion Parke Pippa Crystal Stiletto Pointy Mule
Like the rest of its offerings, those from luxury footwear brand Marion Parke’s bridal collection are equal parts elegant and comfortable. The company was founded by a former foot surgeon who wanted to design comfortable luxury heels. They aim to increase stability, adapt to your feet's curvature, and reduce fatigue on the balls of your feet, so you shouldn’t feel the need to ditch this pair on the dance floor.
Price at time of publish: $487
Heel Height: Approximately 3 inches | Colors: Black, pearlized white, blue | Size Range: IT 35-43
When it comes to the ultimate heel, we're going with Sarah Flint's Perfect Pump 85 for its versatility and comfort. If you're willing to splurge on a classic silhouette that won't go out of style anytime soon, we'd suggest the Dior J'adior Slingback Pump.
What To Look For in Heels
In terms of aesthetics, a pair of shoes can make or break an outfit. “A priority for REVOLVE is making sure that each pair of shoes we buy is the perfect outfit-completer and always the key ingredient for tying our customers' looks together,” Yerkes explains. Though, as a consumer, it’s just as important to consider how a pair of heels will fit into your wardrobe, i.e., which styles will be versatile, wear well with jeans, or complete several formal looks.
Another consideration is craftsmanship, which often impacts a shoe’s overall comfort and reliability. Look for styles with thoughtful touches to make the wearers’ experience pleasant and safe, like some extra cushion or a rubber sole, the latter of which is often added by the wearer post-purchase for practicality.
Ask any podiatrist about the importance of shoe size and they’ll tell you that wearing the correct one will save your soles from damage. A large shoe won’t keep your foot in place, so you’ll constantly feel like it’s falling off, and a small size will create crowding, which can be very painful.
Which types of heels are most damaging to your feet?
Shoes with extreme heel heights, like stilettos, put the most stress on the body. Customer reviews across the web indicated that the most comfortable and supportive shoes are generally 3 inches or fewer in height, though studies by the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) show any heel over 2 inches is capable of causing damage.
How do you measure heel height?
Don’t be deceived—true heel height is the distance between where the heel and the toe each rest, not from the floor to the heel. For the most accurate heel height, place the shoe on a flat surface, then measure from the top of the heel to the point where the heel block connects to the front shoe seam. This method will account for the difference made by the platform height.
Why Trust Byrdie
Hayley Prokos is a Los Angeles-based writer and editor focused on fashion and lifestyle. She contributes regularly to Byrdie’s commerce section and has a passion for sourcing chic and practical pieces with long-term wearability. After hours of researching and chatting with our expert, she’s gathered enough insight to determine which heels are worth buying this season.